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San Sebastian Festival to Sign Gender Parity Charter

Pledge commits festival to transparency in selection, plus parity in executive bodies, where in many ways it already scores highly

MADRID – Spain’s San Sebastian Festival is expected to sign a pledge on gender parity Sunday, following in the footsteps of the Cannes, Locarno, Sarajevo and Venice film fests.

San Sebastian Festival director José Luis Rebordinos is to sign the Charter for Parity and Inclusion of Women in Cinema in the company of Spanish Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo; the minister of culture and sport, José Guirao; the president of the festival’s board of directors and mayor of San Sebastian, Eneko Goia; and the president of Spain’s Assn. of Women Cineastes (CIMA), Cristina Andreu. CIMA vice-president Virginia Yagüe will host the ceremony.

The real news would have been if San Sebastian hadn’t signed. Like Cannes and Venice chiefs Thierry Fremaux and Alberto Barbera, respectively, Rebordinos has steadfastly opposed quotas obliging 50% of festival titles to be from female directors. But in some areas of the festival, parity for women has already been achieved or surpassed: 28 of the festival’s 34 permanent employees are women, as are four of its seven board members, according to Rebordinos. Also, eight out of the nine permanent departments of the festival are run by women.

More eye-catching, San Sebastian joins a growing number of events that have had at least one major section with more titles directed by women than men, as happened with Venice Days and the main competition at Mexico’s Morelia. In San Sebastian, it is the 2018 Europe-Latin America Co-Production Forum.

“We support ways for more women’s films to get made,” Rebordinos said.

Women directed five of San Sebastian’s 18 competition movies, and 34% of the titles in the biggest sections: main competition, New Directors, Horizontes Latinos, the Forum and Films in Progress.

Also, three days away from the beginning of the 66th edition, some of the most buzzed-about titles outside the main competition come from women: Lila Avilés’ “The Chambermaid,” Natalia Meschaninova’s “Core of the World” and Catalonia’s Celia Rico (“Journey to a Mother’s Room”) in the New Directors section; and Catalonia’s Meritxell Colell (“Duo”), and Clara Roquet (“Libertad”) and Chile’s Pepa San Martin (“Happiness”) in the Forum.

The gender parity charter commits San Sebastian, like other festivals, to compile statistics on gender regarding films received, chosen and programmed for selection as well as a list of members of its selection committee and programmers. The festival will commit to establish changes in its executive bodies to achieve parity within the current period of mandate of these bodies.

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